FOCUS GROUPS ON FAMILY LAW ISSUES RELATED TO CUSTODY AND ACCESS

APPENDIX C:  PARENTAL ARRANGEMENTS FOLLOWING SEPARATION OR DIVORCE

After divorce or separation, parents continue to be parents and to have responsibilities towards their children.  People have different points of view on what parenting arrangements should be used. 

The following are some examples of different approaches that could be used to determine parenting arrangements.

APPROACH 1 (Approach currently used in Canada)

The Divorce Act states that the parent who has "custody" of a child is responsible for that child's care and upbringing. In the case of a sole custody order, the most common order, the parent with sole custody is responsible for providing the child with a home and making decisions about things like education and health without having to involve the other parent. 

The parent who has "access" has "visiting rights" and the right to make inquiries and be given information on the child's health, education and welfare.

It is also possible for courts to make joint custody orders but these are the exception.  In this type of arrangement, both parents participate in making decisions regarding the child.  The courts will only grant joint custody orders when parents get along well enough to make these important decisions together.

APPROACH 2

In the second approach, even after a divorce or separation, each parent would continue to have all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that all parents have.  Both parents would share all the rights and responsibilities of raising the children equally, or almost equally.  The child would live with each parent for an equal or near equal amount of time and both parents would have equal authority to make decisions about child related matters.  One parent could not make major decisions about the child without the consent of the other parent.  Courts would be a last resort to resolve disputes that could not be settled by the parents.

APPROACH 3

In Approach 3, even after a divorce or separation, each parent would continue to have all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that all parents have.  However, this would not mean that living arrangements for the child or decision-making authority have to be shared equally between the parents.  Different parental responsibilities would be identified and allocated between the parents in a flexible way.

Parents could share responsibilities equally when it is workable and appropriate to do so.  Parental responsibilities might also be divided in some other way between the parents or given exclusively to one parent if that best meets the needs of the child.  If parents are unable to work out the division of responsibilities together, this would be done by the courts.

What do you think?

Which one of the 3 approaches to parental arrangements should be used?  Please check one box

  • Approach 1
  • Approach 2
  • Approach 3
  • Not sure/it depends

Why do you say that?


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